Monthly Archives: December 2011

Resolving to Save the World: and other impossible endeavors

Just like millions of other people, New Years means I choose to make a major change in my life — and then don’t.  I’ve tried the “I will get a 4.0 GPA this semester” resolution, the “I will run a marathon” resolution, and the ever popular “I will I will lose 10 pounds by summer” resolution.  All of these I did strive toward for a couple months, and some were more successful than others.  My GPA isn’t a 4.0, but it’s pretty dang close.  I haven’t ran a marathon yet, but heck at least I run more than I used to!  And I lost 5 pounds, not 10.  So my New Year’s promises weren’t epic failures.  Still, I think I’ve been going about them all wrong.

I’m not going to resolve to not make a resolution because I do think it’s important to give yourself a goal and have something to strive toward.  I feel the problem with New Years is that people are completely unrealistic. Planning on going to the gym every single day is not practical.  If you have a family or any other obligation in your life, something will inevitably come up that keeps you from getting there one day.  Then you’ll feel like a failure and give up completely.  I’ve been there, done that.

This year, I’m taking my dear, sweet time developing my resolutions, but here are a few that I’m thinking about:

1) Do something to show my husband I love and appreciate him more often.

2) Continue to work toward running goals, and run first race this year.

3) Do something to give back to the world in some way – volunteer, donate, etc.

I feel like these goals are general enough that I cannot fail, but will still make me a better person in one way or another.  I didn’t make the same promises that I’ve made in the past because I don’t want my past failure to impact my new goals.

My advice for developing your own resolutions?

Make smaller goals. Success is relative — you don’t need a large goal to work towards.  Maybe you’ll even accomplish them early in the year and be more motivated to continue on!  So this time instead of telling yourself that you’ll lose 100 pounds by next year, don’t give yourself a set number.  Just resolve to see the number on the scale go down.  That way, your goal is reasonable and attainable.

Make more than one.  Heck make 4 or 5 resolutions!  Okay, at that point you might lose track of them.  But if you make multiple promises to yourself, you’re bound to keep at least one.  On the other hand, make sure if you’re doing more than one that you don’t spread yourself too thin.  Keep them small and simple.

Don’t resolve to do anything you failed to do in the past.  This doesn’t mean last years resolution to get in shape doesn’t matter any more.  Being healthy is one of those goals that never goes away.  I just feel your chance of fulfilling a New Years promise increases if it isn’t the exact same one you didn’t do last New Years.  If you resolved to “start eating healthy” before, and it didn’t pan out, make a fresh, new goal this year.  Instead of trying to do major calorie cuts in your diet, resolve to swap one junk food item for a more nutritious option.  If you eat out almost every day, resolve to make one meal a week at home.  These will still get you on a healthier path without the sense of imminent failure.

I hope these help! Have a safe and Happy New Year everyone!

This just made me giggle...

Have you made any resolutions this year?  What are some things you hope to accomplish in 2012?

Holiday Rewind

Once again another Christmas season has whirred past like a red and green blur. After all the wrapping paper is torn off the presents, and the last morsels of Christmas dinner are finally devoured, I’m always left with the feeling of remorse.  I don’t love winter, but I love this time of year.  I enjoy the time with family, and the excitement and anticipation that Christmas brings.  After it’s all set and done, I’m left feeling like a girl who just got dumped and wondering, “Is it really over?”

About all the decorating I could handle this year

This year was especially strange because none of our typical holiday traditions took place thanks to the stomach flu epidemic that invaded our household a week before Christmas! Instead of baking my traditional fudge and setting up decorating our tree, Nick and I took turns heating up Cambell’s Chicken Noodle soup for the two of us.  Very romantic.  I sound so sarcastic, but it really was awful.  The upside is we were feeling MUCH better by Christmas Eve, and managed the drive down to my parent’s house in time for “Santa” to arrive.

Luckily My Parents Got It Right

Christmas Day, I came to the realization that I am either completely spoiled, or I was a very good girl this year.  I received a Garmin Forerunner 305 from my husband, which was the exact one I was pining over.  My brother gave me a running journal and a gift card that bought me a pair of Brooks Infiniti Tights and an Asics soft shell running jacket.  I now feel like I can get down to the more serious training because the below freezing winter weather can no longer stand in my way.  I won’t be a slave to my gym’s treadmill any longer.  Ha!  And last but not least, my parents gave me my favorite Lola perfume, so now I can smell delicious whenever I’m not sweating it out on a run.  All in all, I feel completely blessed to have such a thoughtful family.  But the gifts were still not my favorite part of the holiday season!  I love the food.

Green Bean Casserole

I still managed to run despite all the hustle and bustle of the season.  I did 3 miles in the great outdoors before the flu bug struck.  I took my dog, Dixie, with me using my hands-free leash (which I still love).  She needs the good ol’ stretch of the legs as much as I do!  I even cut a minute off my running time compared to my pace on the treadmill.  I haven’t ran since Christmas, but personally I wanted to give myself plenty of time to rest and recover.  Plus, I truly feel spending time with family during the holidays trumps my running plans.  I know I can make up for the time off, and it only happens once a year.  I’m sure the more dedicated runners of the world were out running 15 miles, while I was watching Muppets Christmas Carol and sipping a cup of hot cocoa — but I enjoyed myself!

I love this picture

I hope you all had a lovely holiday!  

What were some of your favorite moments? 

Cinnamon-Sugar Coated Pecans

For the last two years, I’ve been making these delectable pecans for all our family get-togethers.  Any time I serve them at parties, I’m immediately bombarded with requests for the recipe.  I have actually caught my aunts and uncles scraping the baking pan in hopes of devouring any remaining morsels.  If you’re planning any kind of holiday party, you’re going to want to serve these.

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Delicious

Ingredients

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 pound pecan halves
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Grease one baking sheet.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg white, water and vanilla extract (if desired) until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. Add pecans to egg whites, stir to coat the nuts evenly. Remove the nuts, and toss them in the sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.

This recipe is phenomenal.  I’m able to whip them together in minutes, and then it’s just a matter of baking time.  I’ve made these a day or so in advance and they taste amazing, but I especially love them hot and fresh out of the oven.  I’m thinking next year I will give these as hostess gifts to those who invite us to their parties.

Give Them Away as Tasty Gifts

I hope you all Enjoy!

You’ll Run Your Legs Off Kid

I Can Totally Relate

“I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle,” screams Ralphie as he clings to Santa’s red slide.  Ralphie, I can totally relate.  You want a Red Ryder BB gun, I want a Garmin Forerunner 305 with a GPS Receiver and built-in heart rate monitor.

Let's Hope Santa Reads Follows My Blog!

How I long to break free of my treadmill, my phone’s GPS applications, and MapMyRun.  To slap on this little beauty and head out in any direction imaginable for a serious run is all I’ve thought about since I made up my Christmas list this year.  Yup, we still make wish lists.  I think I’ll get lucky because this model isn’t the newest out there, so the price is reasonable compared to others.  Keeping my fingers crossed!  I’ll be so happy to tear open the wrapping paper and find myself holding the forerunner in my hands, I imagine I’ll bust out the front door and immediately start running down the street to test it out!

Other items on my Christmas list include:

Cold Weather Running Tights

I wasn’t very specific with the running clothes, as long as their made for cold weather.  For someone who lives in a state with frigid winters, you would assume I already have warm clothes to workout in.  Nope!  I had two pairs of long underwear, and somewhere along the line they’ve disappeared into the abyss that is my closet.  I have a pair of sweatpants, but they’re capris — not too good for running through slushy roads.  So any cold weather item would be greatly appreciated!

Because I Like to Not Smell Bad

I remember smelling this perfume in the department store a year or so ago, and I haven’t forgotten how much I loved it!  I’m one of those girls who loves nice scents and perfumes, but I can never justify spending so much on such a little bottle.  So I decided to put this on my Christmas list because it’s something I’d never by for myself. Plus it just looks so pretty!

A Water Bottle with a Built-in Filter

This whole concept intrigues me.  I would love to be able to fill up my water bottle at the gym or school and always have good tasting water at my fingertips!

That about wraps up my Christmas list this year.  Obviously, I don’t expect to get all of these things, if any!  It’s fun to dream and no harm in that!

What are some things you’re hoping Santa brings to you?  What is has been your Red Ryder equivalent?

 

Attack of the Christmas Cookies: and other things that are sabotaging my running goals

I am officially in a sugar coma!  This past Monday, my book club decided to do a Christmas cookie exchange on top of our typical book discussion.  I left the party with 6 dozen cookies of all varieties: peanut butter kisses, iced gingers, chocolate peanut butter no-bakes, chocolate chip, cranberry-white chocolate chip. Needless to say, I was surrounded by temptation of the most delicious kind!  Every time I walked into the kitchen, these little morsels of delight were staring at me from their plates and calling my name.  I think I heard them say, “Oh come on, what’s one more?”  I’ve been on a cookie binge for the last week and, despite my efforts to run, I can feel my body screaming at me to cut back on the freakin’ sugar!

The Infamous Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bakes

Luckily, this doesn’t happen often and I don’t plan on making any kind of sweets for a long time after our current stash is depleted.  Still, I need to work on eating better.  I feel like stress from school is becoming my excuse for not doing a lot of things.  In all seriousness, I’m sure my body is crashing knowing that I am days away from being finished with finals and this semester.  But, I can’t allow those things to get in the way of my goals.  Every day on campus, I see a handful of runners still going despite finals, despite the holidays and despite the cold.  They’ve been able to manage their time and fit in their runs.  I need to adopt that kind of focus, determination and attitude if I’m going to accomplish this half marathon.

I honestly don’t feel like I’m making nearly as much progress as I thought I would have by this point in the game.  Duh. My sugar overload combined with laziness this week probably hasn’t helped much.  But even before, my body has been struggling with the whole treadmill running concept.  All summer I ran outside, either on trails or on the sidewalk paths by the river.  I enjoyed being in nature and looking at my surroundings as I huffed and puffed and trotted along.  The treadmill has quickly become dull to me.  I am easily distracted by other runners, who discourage me with their ability to run faster and longer than I can at the moment.  Luckily, I have found something that is making it a little  more bearable: Podcasts!

LOVE!

A podcast called MotionTraxx is currently my favorite one to listen to while doing any amount of running on the hamster wheel.  Their episodes provide energetic, trance-like music that keeps you running at a specific pace.  I downloaded three so far.  One is a solid hour of music set at a 150 beats per minute pace.  The other two are treadmill-interval workouts at levels 1 and 2.  Both give you cues on when to increase the speed or incline, which keeps you from having to time yourself.  The music is wonderful because they keep the variety going and it is easy to lose yourself in the rhythm.  I totally forget about peeking to see how much longer I have to go.

I’ve downloaded some other podcasts like: This American Life and RunRun Live, but I find it more difficult to pay attention to them on the treadmill.  They’ve been great while cross training on the elliptical and I do like those programs, so I recommend them if you’re looking for something to listen to, other than music.

This has been quite the hodgepodge of a post!  I did find one last thing that I feel I need to print and duck tape to my mirror, so I have to see it every morning.  I think it would put an end to all excuses pretty fast.

I think this was directed at me.

Have any of you been struggling to keep your running goals lately?  What have you found that gets you back on track? 

 

I Run Because…

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Last weekend was my mom’s 50th birthday party, which I got to help plan. We kept it super casual and laid back. My mom has multiple sclerosis and isn’t able to do a whole lot anymore. The disease has progressed quite a bit over the last three or four years. Being home reminded me of a main reason why I initially started running.

My mom was diagnosed right after she got married, at the age of 23. Growing up, I would have never known she was sick because this woman was always doing something. Every morning she would run a mile or so and then do an hour of a Denise Austin workout video. I remember being a little girl waiting till she finished so I could watch cartoons! I had my priorities!

For the last few years, her legs haven’t been able to work. She can no longer walk and I know it kills her to not be active anymore. My mom always talks about how much she wishes she could run and she has refused to give up on that dream.

I remember thinking to myself (back when running still seemed like torture to me) that I wanted to run because I still could. I wanted to run because I knew my mom would love to have that ability again and if she couldn’t do it anymore, then maybe I could do it for her. I guess a part of me feels like if I stopped running, I would be wasting a gift that people like my mom would never take forgranted.

I think a part of staying motivated to lace up the tennies and hit the pavement (or the treadmill) is keeping mental notes of all the reasons why you’re doing it. There doesn’t have to be one singular reason. I have a bunch!

1. I enjoy food, a lot!
2. It’s a mental and physical challenge
3. I set a goal and I am determined to reach it
4. I relieve a whole ton of stress (especially now, during finals…yuck!)
5. I enjoy it

But my mom is always going to be the motivation that pushes me farther and gets me out the door. I hope one day they’ll find a cure for this disease and her and I can run together!

What are your reasons for running?

What I LOVE Right Now.

Minutes ago, I was attempting to bake a chicken breast in the oven for lunch.  Being the lazy dishwasher that I am, I thought I would cheat by lining my baking pan with wax paper – it says right on the box that it should work for “easy” clean up! Well…no.  Seconds after I popped my healthy lunch into the oven, my smoke alarm starts obnoxiously sounding throughout the kitchen.  Oops.  Maybe I need to re-read what the heck wax paper is supposed to be used for because clearly it can’t sustain itself in the oven.  The smell of nasty chemical compositions aerated through the house.  I needed help.  Which brings me to the first item I am in love with at the present moment!

Lemon Verbena Soy Candles

Lemon Verbena Soy Candles

1. On a recent Target escapade, a good friend raved about these candles.  They burn clean and the scent in incredible.  I can’t tell you how fast my kitchen stopped smelling like burnt nastiness and started smelling clean, fresh and invigorating!  The best part is they don’t cost an arm and a leg – I believe I got away with this one for around $10.

Kindle + Third Book of the Hunger Games Series = Epic

2. Now, I realize I am late in the game here.  I’ve been hearing about the Hunger Games for a while, but I couldn’t get myself to read it.  I guess I had expected something along the lines of Twilight, which I couldn’t get into.  Plus the whole premise of the book was not anything I ever would have thought to pick up in the past. BUT! I couldn’t have been more wrong! I savored the first book.  The characters are so well developed, the plot moves along fast and is well thought out, the action is exciting and leaves you on the edge of your comfiest chair.  I’m currently midway through the third book, Mockingjay, and it hasn’t disappointed so far.  Even better? I get to read it on my Kindle.  I can’t tell you how much I love toting that to the gym.  I can’t read and run at the same time, but when I ride the bike or the elliptical I can get my fill of reading.  Plus you don’t have to fumble trying to turn the page while in motion, something I always had trouble with.

Saucony Kinvara 2

3. One thing I can’t get over is how much I adore these shoes.  I was in dire need of a new pair to run in and I’m not a big fan of too much cushion.  I wanted something lightweight and supportive, but I had no idea what I was looking for.  Before I just ran in my old, old tennies (yucky and smelly), so this was to be my first real pair of running shoes.  After visiting our local shoe store, my eyes immediately sought out this fiesty model on display.  I oogled and awed for about 10 minues, going to look at other shoes and finding my way back to these show stoppers.  After trying them on and giving them a brief test drive around the store, I was convinced (perhaps too easily, but my heart knew what it wanted).  I have never once regretted that decision!  These shoes are perfect. Everything I was looking for and more.  When I was running 6 miles over the summer, my feet never hurt or had blisters.  My high arches never ached.  Wonderful.

If you want more professional reviews for this shoe – click here.

Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's

4. Tis’ the season for all sorts of yumminess…egg nog, hot cocoa, homemade pies and all those sorts of things.  Obviously my waistline doesn’t appreciate these in the same way I do, but I am not one to cut myself off from having a little something sweet every now and then.  At my recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I was intrigued by the idea of candy cane oreo-like cookies.  The whole concept sounded pretty amazing.  What closed the deal was a man who ran up and grabbed three boxes right in front of me, while going on and on about how he can’t get enough of them during the holidays.  Good enough for me! I bought two boxes.  Lo and behold – they’re fantastic.  Creamy peppermint filling with bits of candy cane sprinkled in for good measure and then pressed between two chocolatey wafers. The result is perfection, especially with a cup of hot cocoa.

A Man and His Dog

5. Finally, I had to squeeze in my husband and our dog.  They’ve been cracking me up lately.  I catch them snuggling on the couch all too often.  This picture says a thousand words.  Apparently I have competition! <3

What are some things you love right now?

Winter Blues? Wacked Hormones?

Those who reside in the arctic tundra of Wisconsin tend to pride themselves on their ability to gracefully survive the bone chilling cold and excessively long winters. Some people claim they love that wet cold that freezes over their face and pride themselves on their ability to drive through a couple feet of snow.

I am not this Wisconsinite. I hate winter. Ok, the first month of snow is pretty and I appreciate the winter activities like snowboarding. Other than that, not so much. Last winter, we had snow into early May and by that time I had a serious case of winter blues. So these last couple weeks, when I noticed my mood changing significantly, I assumed it was just those same blues settling in early.

But this was so extreme! I would cry at nothing and go from happy to sad in seconds. Anyone who knows me, knows this is completely out of character. I’m a genuinely happy person! This was not from simply the weather changing.

I decided it could be stress. I’m taking 17 credits this semester and things are coming to a head with finals looming on the horizon. I tried taking naps and exercising more to relieve that built up tension. Nope! Still felt awful! For whatever reason I couldn’t shake the constant feeling of sadness or heaviness inside.

After a brief search online for any ideas as to what this could be, I found my answer. The only prescription I am on is for birth control, which I had been on for almost a year. Turns out I’m one of MANY who are on the pill and suffering from “depression” like symptoms similar to what I had been feeling. Even though I’ve been taking the same one for a while, it seems these symptoms can show themselves at various times.

I imagine this is different depending on your body and how it reacts to various hormones. Mine apparently doesn’t function well under this one! I stopped taking it and made an appointment with my doctor to talk about alternatives. I can already tell I’m much less anxious and on edge.

I just thought this was something I should share because someone out there may have had similar issues.
Obviously talk to a doctor because I am not one! But I was so relieved to find an answer to my problem that I couldn’t help but tell someone else!

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I Think I Can, I Think I Can

One thing I’ve discovered about running is that it keeps me honest. If I’m stressed or mentally exhausted, it’ll show by making my run that much more difficult. Running puts it all on the table in front of me and forces me to face whatever it is – be it fear, weakness, emotions or lack of faith in myself. I think that is what draws me to it.

When I’m huffing and puffing, I’m overcoming personal obstacles within myself. This is something that forces me to work hard and push myself, something I don’t do often enough.

Today, I ran 3 miles. Not much, but I’m building back up and this was a challenge for me at this point. I increased my distance by about a mile or so, but I did give my legs a short rest midway through when they felt heavy. I did notice this seemed to improve compared to the other day – I’m hoping this means I’m getting stronger!

Also, I have been throwing in some cross training on the elliptical and stationary bike. The bike especially is a nice way to end the workout.

So far so good! Clearly the road to the half marathon isn’t going to be a relaxing, flat path paved in gold. Instead, I’m finding it to be full of surprising hills and various obstacles and paved in loose gravel. I guess that’s life and I’m totally up for the challenge. I know I’ll learn more about myself in the next few months than I ever could have imagined.

Revisiting Square One

My body has gone on strike. It’s amazing how I spent all summer building up mileage only to lose a good chunk of my progress in a month! I guess I’ve learned from my run today that this is not a sport that you can take a break from and expect to be just as good. My run today was a slow 2 miles, but just 1.3 miles into it my legs felt heavy and almost stiff in a way. I tried to pick up the pace at the end and oddly that seemed to help. I’m wondering if my slower pace was actually making the run more difficult because of the shorter stride? Who knows!

Regardless, I’m taking this a day at a time. This week I’m not running everyday simply to let my body ease back into the swing of things. I rented a couple of yoga tapes from my library to incorporate into this whole shebang. I’ve been doing about a half hour a few mornings a week to help with my total lack of flexibility…plus it’s a peaceful and energizing start to the day!

I refuse to be discouraged about my temporary regression. When the going gets tough, I have a tendency to throw in the towel – especially when it comes to sports. I’m in no way a natural born athlete, but I’ve decided I don’t care! Running is not something I do for anyone else. I just want to prove to myself that, in the words of Winnie the Pooh (cause you’re never too old!), I am braver than I believe, stronger than I seem and smarter than I think.

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